Category: general

It may not be the GDC, but…

I hop on a plane Tuesday to head down to San Antonio for the Popular Culture Association national conference. The PCA is not the most prestigious conference, but it is turning out to have quite a few videogame panels. When I went to the PCA two years ago in Toronto, I was on the only videogame panel, now there are five. So while none of the big names will be there (besides myself of course!) hopefully it will turn out to be a good time.
So look forward to some pictures from the PCA!

America’s Army

If you are some sort of pack rat like me and have an unbearable compulsion to save anything videogame related, or if you are just interested in America’s Army, then you might want to check out the pdf about it. I haven’t read it yet, and honestly, I haven’t spent as much time with America’s Army as I should, but it looks interesting. And, again, I have a compulsion to download anything I see that might possibly potentially be useful in research at some undefined point at the future. Luckily, bits and bytes don’t take up much space…
I found it via a comment left over at Grand Text Auto.

Just a reminder…

I haven’t seen this or anything, but as a reminder, GSN, the channel formerly known as the Game Show Network, is going to be showing a documentary Sunday night. It will probably be horrible and nothing that anyone didn’t already know, but in my mind, even horrible things about videogames are interesting, simply because they are on the air and are being seen by lots of people who probably spend less time thinking about videogames than us academic folks and as such even horrible representations of videogames are for many the only representations that they may see.

So be sure to tune in tomorrow night! Its got Tony Hawk! It must be kewl!

Research

Anyone out there doing some research on videogame players as a sub-culture? Using a little Dick Hebdige or Sarah Thornton? I’m getting set to do some work on that and it would be nice to see what someone else has done on it.

I’m too busy doing original research to play some silly game!

It looks like for the foreseeable future my Friday nights will be spent playing Counter-Strike. All in all, there are worse things I could be doing. I like CS a lot. What I’m going is some ethnography on a group of guys (and they are guys) who play CS in a lab on campus on a regular basis.

Of course, I’m not just playing, but observing, and interviewing people. That is where it gets interesting. I’ve turned my hobby into a job. I know that I’m not the first to observe this, but interesting things happen when you turn your hobby into a job. As I said, I like Counter-Strike. And it is fun to play with other people face to face. I’m new to this university, so it is nice to meet some folks outside my department as well. However, because I’m studying these people (and myself just as much) it isn’t just fun and games, but it is work. Playing Counter-Strike on Friday nights is a job.

Certainly, I haven’t got a lot to complain about. As a graduate student, I am getting paid to play videogames and hang out with people. However, the dynamic is different now that this is for an external purpose — that is my dissertation and the ethnography class I am currently taking. A group of my friends were getting together to play some cards that same night and I couldn’t because I had to go observe people. So of course when I did stop by the card game around midnight (I know, I left the gaming early!) the first thing I told them was that I would have been there earlier, but I was out doing original research and I didn’t have time to sit around all night and play silly games.

Well, I thought it was funny. But it points out that taking on this project means that I have to make some (however small) sacrifices.

My point in this is not to complain. I know I’m pretty lucky. It is as a warning. Think about it before you turn your hobby into a job because when you do, it changes things. in four years (hopefully!) when I finish this dissertation, I certainly hope that I won’t be burned out on playing videogames. Of course if I am, that will just be another chapter for the dissertation, “How Studying Videogame Players Made Me Burn Out and Never Want to Play another Videogame Ever Again.”

90% of everything

I’ve had some free moments in the past couple days so i’ve started reading some videogame studies articles I’ve been meaning to get around to. Some of them are pretty good. But lots of them are not. To be nice. I know it isn’t a new observation, but 90% of everything is crap. Now that videogame studies seems to be the hip new thing (I was here first posers! 😉 ) there is more and more to read and more and more of it seems less than earth shattering. Of course many may say that of my work, but I’m not naming any names here so be kind! It is kind of sad though to see the field filling with mediocrity.
Of course I was pleasently surprized when the Popular Culture Association program was put online. There are several videogame panels. Quite a big difference from two years ago in Toronto when there were three of us videogame people on one panel. Of course, there is that 90% of everything is crap and the PCA has certainly adhered to that rule the two times I’ve gone in the past. Oh well, I can be that ass in the audience who askes rude obnoxious questions.

work is so hard!

I’ve started doing my ethnographic work here. I spent the evening playing Counter-Strike with a handful of gamers. It was interesting to get to play against experienced players again (I was the worst one there) as well as to put on my ethnographer hat and study them. My little research subjects.
I spent three hours playing. So what was the first thing I did when I got home? Started playing Grand Theft Auto. Maybe there is something to this videogame addiction thing.

insert witty comment here

I read Sarah Thornton’s Club Cultures again the other day. I read it first three years ago before I decided to turn my interest in videogames into my vocation. It and Dick Hebdidge’s Subculture make interesting reading. While reading them I couldn’t help but think about videogame players. Are videogame players a subculture? WHat consists of subcultural capital for a gamer?

I think that obviously he who has the best computer has a certain amount of capital. Also, there is a certain amount of bragging rights to being able to say that you played Counter-Strike earlier than the other guys (beta 3 baby!). But is that enough to make a subculture? I don’t know. I am not sure what calling gamers a subculture gets me and my research. If gamers are a subculture, then so what? Is this a question worth pursuing? Is a label meaningful? Is it useful? I’m not sure. Something to think about.

A Request

What would be really nice would be a web site that reviews videogames and tells me which platform is the best for a specific game. I’ve got a PC and I’ve got an X-Box. So when a game is available for both of them it often becomes difficult to decide which to buy. Sure a game like Tony Hawk will almost certainly be better on X-Box because of the controller. However, what about a game like Deus Ex 2 or Prince of Persia? or Knights of the Old Republic? Someone make up my mind for me!!!